Despite facing a 3-0 deficit from the first leg, Atletico Madrid were never going to go quietly in their Champions League semi-final. In the last European game and final Madrid derby at Atletico’s Vicente Calderon stadium, the hosts stunned Real Madrid by going 2-0 up within 16 minutes.
Real Madrid gradually found their feet, however, and then killed the tie thanks to some beautiful skill from Karim Benzema. The Frenchman beat three Atletico defenders to set up Toni Kroos, and although the German’s shot was brilliantly saved by Jan Oblak, Isco was on hand to slot home from the rebound.
Atletico huffed and puffed after that, and had their chances, but ultimately it will be Real Madrid in the Champions League final.
Here are seven deadly stats from Wednesday’s second leg…
SAUL, CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SPECIALIST
Saul was the man who killed Leicester City’s hopes of a comeback in the quarter-finals, and on Wednesday he gave Atletico Madrid hope of pulling off a miraculous comeback of their own.
The midfielder seems to bring his best in the Champions League, especially in the knockout stages.
Four of his seven Champions League goals have come in the knockout stages, and he’s now scored against both Bayern Munich and Real Madrid in Champions League semi-finals.
GRIEZMANN THE BEST OF THE REST?
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi occupy a planet of their own, but the title for best player among mere mortals has been up for grabs for quite a while. From Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Frank Ribery a few years ago to Luis Suarez and Neymar recently, many have made their cases.
But is it now Antoine Griezmann’s spot to lose?
He’s usually thought of as the best player in La Liga not playing at Real Madrid or Barcelona, and his goal on Wednesday bolstered his claim that in the Champions League, he deserves even more praise.
Antoine Griezmann has now scored 15 Champions League goals since the star of last season, more than:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 10, 2017
Luis Suarez (11)
Karim Benzema (9) pic.twitter.com/fXByZXHblP
REAL MADRID TURN UP…
After looking shell-shocked by Atletico Madrid’s strong start to the second leg, Real Madrid finally got going, settling into a rhythm that allowed them to take control of the game.
Toni Kroos and Luka Modric began bossing the game in midfield, while Isco was proving to be a menace whenever he got onto the ball, and Atletico Madrid were soon on the back foot again.
Going 2-0 down within 16 minutes could have sent Real Madrid into a panic. Instead, they rose to the challenge.
Since scoring the second goal Atletico Madrid have spent 62.08% of the time in their own half.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 10, 2017
Real Madrid wrestling back control. pic.twitter.com/Jh322vFSdB
…AND SCORE, LIKE THEY ALWAYS DO
The last time Real Madrid failed to score was in last season’s Champions League semi-final, when Manchester City held them to a 0-0 draw in the first leg.
So even with a 2-0 lead, Atletico Madrid probably knew that the 3-0 win they needed on the night (just to take the game into extra time) wasn’t going to happen .
Isco’s goal towards the end of the first half meant that Atletico needed another three to progress, thus effectively killing the tie.
Real Madrid’s scoring streak will now face the ultimate test: Juventus’ defence.
61 - Real Madrid have equalled Bayern as the team from the top 5 league with the longest scoring run in all competitions. Historic.— OptaJose (@OptaJose) May 10, 2017
ISCO ENDING THE SEASON IN TOP FORM
Isco only gets into the Real Madrid starting XI when there are injuries to first-choice players, but the Spaniard excels whenever he’s given the chance.
He was one of the standout performers against Bayern Munich in the previous round, and he looked like Real Madrid’s biggest threat again on Wednesday, even before his goal.
The 25-year-old is capable of sublime skill, always knows how to find a pass, and pops up with vital goals.
Yet, the question remains: if Gareth Bale is fit by June 3 – he’ll have the added incentive of playing in a Champions League final in his hometown of Cardiff – will Isco be relegated to the bench again?
Isco has now scored or assisted 12 goals in his last 14 starts for Real Madrid.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 10, 2017
Always taking his chance. 👏 pic.twitter.com/mPR6oHGIUz
KARIM BENZEMA’S SILKY SKILL
The skill Karim Benzema produced to leave three Atletico Madrid defenders trailing in his wake was absolutely sublime.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to do justice to such moments with mere numbers. Here, however, the numbers add to the story.
Benzema had to beat three players. He beat one, then another – with a third being taken out of the equation for good measure. And then, Madrid scored.
Karim Benzema completed two take-ons before squaring the ball in the build up to Isco's goal.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 10, 2017
42': Savic ✅
42': Giménez ✅
Great feet. pic.twitter.com/sgRxgm0zD1
MODRIC AND ISCO WERE UNTOUCHABLE
Real Madrid having more possession and more passes was expected. That is their style, and Atletico Madrid’s style is to let the opposition have the ball.
Real Madrid having not one but two players who completed more take-ons than the entire Atletico team? That’s special.
Atletico are known for having a hard-nosed, no-nonsense defence, but Isco and Luka Modric made them look silly at times. The Real Madrid duo were practically untouchable.